Artists' Statements

Margaret Booker (Co-Creator, Director/Writer)

Stemming from a 2001 conversation with violinist Shem Guibbory about the need and power of great music, I began exploring the notion of an innovative, multidisciplinary form of theatrical presentation. To that end, I spoke with writer/performer, Rinde Eckert, and book writer, Robert Schenkkan, to create an original story line including a uniquely altered fable derived from Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra—a tale filled with the realities of daily life in a New York café in an atmosphere of enchantment. A story powerful enough to drive an extraordinary spectrum of music diverse in genre, time period, and cultural roots. Concurrently, Shem proceeded to work on the repertoire and new musical commissions for the show, while an extraordinary design team began to experiment with a many-layered visual production.

Our story of a uniquely contemporary American family with a history of cultural cooperation bridges the gap between the enormity of a global community and the more accessible focus of daily life. Weaving into our work the idea of the Alhambra and the fable, both evocative of significant sociocultural crossroads, provides an exciting opportunity to celebrate human resiliency in the face of contemporary challenges and the power of the imagination to envision cultural harmony in a local and global context.

Margaret Booker
Mountain View, CA

Shem Guibbory (Co-Creator, Violinist)

My collaborative partnership with Megs Booker began with a simple idea: exposing more people to the wonderful power of live music.

We re-contextualize the performance of great music from many cultures, and show listeners the world over that all these types of music can be their music, without the need for prejudice and labels. By surprising them while they are laughing, perhaps, listening to a story, we can persuade their senses and emotions and bring them back again and again for more.

This sort of "crossover" experience has terribly important implications for our society: potentially helping to shape our ability to more readily accept differences between peoples and cultures, and then embrace them for the elements that we share in common.

In the development period for A Night at the Alhambra Café, our creative team has brought a love and mastery of an incredible scope of literature, design, performance, and music.

I have taken great delight with my role in the team: surveying a huge, diverse musical wealth; precisely selecting works that best fit the theatrical needs of the story; and making sure that those pieces flow smoothly from one emotional level to another.

Shem Guibbory
White Plains, NY